All those famous guys, (Malcolm Gladwell, Leo Babuata, etc.) claim that mastery of a skill is all about practice and creating habits. While I realize the scale of tiny quilts doesn't imply mastery, per se, I am treating this process of play like a skill to be mastered. I'm trying to practice. I'm trying to turn out a tiny quilt every week.
The practice starts with observing and sketching. I have a hot pink pencil, a tiny sharpener and a 5" x 8" spiral sketch pad. I date every page and start doodling. Some days there's not much to use, some days there are a few good ideas. Some days the first sketch is great (these days are rare). Mostly, it's about consistency and volume.
Google images is a helpful tool for ideas. This one came from ingesting images of butterfly wings.